Information about the place RITHYMNIA (Ancient city) RETHYMNON - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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Ancient Rithymna

  Neolithic potsherds, which were found during surface research on the rocky hill of Palaiokastro, reveal the existence of human life during this period. The existence of a settlement here during the Late Minoan period is undoubted. This was proved by the discovery of a chiselled tomb, complete with funeral gifts, in the area of Mastabas, dating back to the last stage of the Late Minoan period (LM III = 1350-1250 BC). However, the most convincing and distinct evidence for the existence of the ancient town of Rethymno, or Rithimna, is given by the inscriptions and coins dating back to the 4th and 3rd century BC; the latter displaying Apollo or Athena on the one side and symbols of the sea such as two dolphins or a trident on the reverse.
  Furthermore the writers of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century supply valuable information about Rithimna. Plinios, for example (1st century), and Claudius Ptolemaeus (2nd century) describe the town as being situated between Panormo and Georgioupoli, whilst Claudius Aelianos (3rd century) was the first to mention the existence of the temple of Rokkaia Artemis. The carvings, which were discovered on the natural rock on the Palaiokastro hill, give evidence of the existence of a sanctuary on the hill. Furthermore, there is undoubted evidence that part of the constructions and buildings the sanctuary consisted of was demolished during the building of the Venetian fortress. The Venetians called the hill "Palaiokastro" (= Old Fortress) which proves that remains of an earlier, fortified building had existed.
  As to the exact position of ancient Rithimna, nothing can be said with absolute certainty. However, based on a few Venetian written testimonies in combination with archaeological findings in the area of Arkadiou Street and the Customs, it may be concluded that at least during the Hellenistic and Roman period the settlement was situated in the same place as is the town of Rethymno of today. Possibly this also applied to the settlement of the ancient Rithimna, the name of which has been kept alive up until today.

This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Tourism Promotion Committee of Rethymno Prefecture URL below, which contains images.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  An ancient city in W central Crete ca. 40 km E-SE from Khania. Little is known of its history. It is mentioned mainly by geographers (Plin. HN 4.12.59; Ptol. 3.15.5; cf. also Lycoph. Alex. 76; Steph. Byz. s.v.). If the emendation ‘Rhithymna’ is correct in Aelian (NA 14.20), there was a temple of Artemis Rhokkaia at or near the site, at that time (early 3d c. A.D.) a mere village. It is not mentioned in Hierokles or the Notitiae. The city itself is not mentioned in inscriptions (e.g. the mid 3d c. agreements with Miletos or the treaty with Eumenes, 183), but only individual citizens. It probably developed links with the Ptolemies in the 3d c., and seems to have been refounded as Arsinoe, probably in the late 3d c.; the old name was in use again by the early 2d c. (Le Rider). Coinage started in the 4th c. Athena seems to have been the chief deity. Inscriptions in Rhethymno Museum (mostly gravestones of the Roman and Early Christian periods) are from Rhethymno province, and few of them certainly from Rhethymno.
  The site was settled before the end of the Bronze Age (LM III tombs from SE suburb of Mastaba). Very iew remains of the ancient city have been found: part of a Late Roman house with columns was found under Kiouloubasi Square; mosaics found during construction of the Customs House (1931) were lost without study. The acropolis must have been on the high promontory (Fortetsa) where the Venetian fort was later built; here Belli (late 16th c.) claims he saw remains of a temple. The city and harbor lay below to the SE; SW of Fortetsa on the shore are remains of rock-cut slipways, probably ancient, and a fish-tank now barely awash (only a slight change in sea level is apparent here).

D. J. Blackman, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Rhithymna (Rhethymna)

  A titular see of Crete, suffragan of Gortyna. Nothing is known of its ancient history but some of its coins are extant. It still exists under the Greek name of Rhethymnon.
  During the occupation of Crete by the Venetians it became a Latin see. According to Corner, this see is identical with Calamona. The Turks who had already ravaged the city in 1572, captured it again in 1646. At present the Greeks have a bishop there who bears the combined titles of Rhethymnon and Aulopotamos. The date of the foundation of the see is unknown.

S. Petrides, ed.
Transcribed by: Douglas J. Potter
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Rhithumna. A town of Crete, which is mentioned by Ptolemy (iii. 17. § 7) and Pliny (iv. 20) as the first town on the N. coast to the E. of Amphimalla, and is spoken of as a Cretan city by Steph. B., in whose text its name is written Rhithymnia (Rhithumnia: Eth. Rhithumniates, Hpithumnios). It is also alluded to by Lycophron. The modern Rhithymnos or Retimo retains the name of the ancient city upon the site of which it stands. Eckhel (Numi Vet. Anecdoti, p. 155) first assigned to Rhithymna its ancient coins; maritime emblems are found on them.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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